A determination of the Commission on the Administration of Justice in a dispute involving Nairobi Water and Sewerage Company established an unfair treatment of a consumer, a series of illegal actions, and elaborate attempts to protect staff involved in fraud.
Two of the three suspects in the fraud are employees of Nairobi Water and Sewerage Company. The network runs from the area office in Buru Buru, to the regional office in Eastleigh, and the company’s head office on Kampala Road, Industrial Area.
The Ombudsman’s determination asks Nairobi Water to settle the matter. The complaint can also use the determination to sue NWSC in court for redress, a move that could expose further rot at NWSC.
Okech Kendo Gordon, a senior journalist and a university lecturer, first raised the issue with Nairobi Water area offices in Buru Buru in 2012, NWSC regional office in Eastleigh, in a series of letters, which were ignored. He has retained an advocate, at cost, for three years on the dispute.
In a determination addressed to Nairobi Water and Sewerage Company Managing Director Nahason Muguna, and signed by CAJ chairperson Florence Kajuju, the Ombudsman says:
“The decision by the respondent to apportion a debt of Sh143,659.51 to the complaint was unlawful and untenable as the same is tainted with irregularities.”
Kendo petitioned the Ombudsman alleging harassment by Nairobi Water Company over a water meter fraud committed by NWSC staff. He said the account was changed to a third party’s name without his knowledge to hide illegal deals by NWSC water cartels.
Nairobi Water investigations confirmed the illegal change of account particulars to one Julius Nyerere, in official communication from the MD’s office. Engineer Nahason Muguna, then acting MD, wrote to the Ombudsman:
“Investigations established that there had been change (fraud) in the complainant’s account details ‘sometimes’ in October 2012 to the aforementioned tenant (Julius Nyerere). It was also established that it was the duty of the tenant (Julius Nyerere) to ensure that all utility bills of the subject premises are settled.”
Water company investigations also confirmed, “it was the duty of the said tenant to ensure that all utility bills of the subject premises are settled”.
The Ombudsman further established the disputed account was reinstated to the complainant’s name but the debt still stands. The company policy does not allow change of account particulars with a pending bill.
On November 11, in communication to NWSC regional manager in Eastleigh, Timothy Irimu, the complainant writes:
“To RM Nairobi Water: You recall you refused to print the account statement, citing policy? You recall meter separation was done to establish disputed bill and current bill? You recall the current tenant paid his bill, which has NOT been reflected? You recall MD confirming my complaint? You recall the matter is before CAJ?”
”You recall CAJ asked NW a question, which has not been answered? You recall the matter is due for determination at CAJ? You recall you are harassing the current tenant who is paying his bills, which are not being reflected? Today NW security went there to harass the tenant for the Nairobi Water fraud. Muguna is off duty. Commercial director Mbugua refers me to RM who has been saying the matter was referred to Legal and commercial director?”
Irimu continued to issue illegal orders, to coverup an illegality, and harassing the complaint even as the matter was pending for determination before the Ombudsman. Irimu’s predecessor in Eastleigh, Sophy Kibere, first received a formal petition in 2017, which was also forwarded to the company secretary at NWSC headquarters in Industrial Area.
These were ignored, until LAjwang and Company Advocates first wrote to NWSC in 2018. NWSC is yet to contact the complaint or his lawyer, whose contacts they have, since the determination was made on November 27.